The new family of parishes is expected to be announced this month

The long-awaited announcement about the family of Catholic parishes will arrive in mid-February.

Deacon Tim McNeil said in an email, “Archbishop Lucas will make the final decisions in mid-February. We will write a press release.

The Archdiocese of Omaha announced in February 2022 that it was establishing family parishes. This resulted in the assignment of St. Francis, Tarnov, Lindsay, Leigh and Clarkson to the rural family G.

The Platte Center is part of Rural Family I with the three parishes of Columbus and the parish of Duncan.

Since then, the parishes of the Archdiocese of Omaha have prepared proposals to submit to Archbishop Lucas.

Other parishes in northeast Nebraska will also be subject to family parishes.

According to the archdiocese’s timeline, pastors shared their pastoral planning with their parishioners in January, received feedback, and then presented those plans to the archbishop.

The assignments of priests will take place in June and the restructuring of the parishes will begin on July 1st.

This restructuring means that parishes will be established with times and places of masses, as well as the sharing of priests and who will lead these services.

Priests will not celebrate more than four masses in two places or up to three in three places.

The archdiocese’s website addressed the changes as follows:

“Bottom line: the future can be made better by what we will do in the days to come. Times change. The needs of people and of the world also change. To face the moment, your parish must also evolve. The church has always met the moment. Now we have to seize the moment.”

The archdiocese’s website also states: “While no parish closures or mergers are anticipated, there may be up to 20 parishes where weekend masses will no longer be offered. In these parishes, churches could still be used for christenings, weddings, First Friday devotions, Eucharistic adoration and other similar uses.

“Where there’s a cessation of a Sunday Mass, there’s going to be a mourning that happens there,” said Phil LaSala, director of pastoral planning for the archdiocese. “The transition from this new reality will be difficult.”

Until Archbishop Lucas releases his final decision, it is unknown whether any rural Family G parishes will close or merge.

As McNeil stated earlier, the move to parish families is “Bringing a group of parishes into one family is a modern approach. By sharing resources, parishes can focus on our vision of becoming missionary communities.

“The benefits of family accommodation are the same for all the families proposed. Think smaller faith sharing groups, joint holiday Bible school, dynamic RCIA and religious education programs, poor relief. An additional significant benefit of Families of Parishes includes priests sharing each other’s burdens by coordinating ministry programs, avoiding duplicate efforts, and working in close harmony with their fellow priests,” McNeil said.

He said the decision was made in consultation with priests after considering the needs of all involved.

The numbers show that within the 23-county Omaha Archdiocese there are 105 active priests and projections show that by 2032 there will be 84 priests, based on two ordinations per year. This means that there will not be enough priests to cover all parishes.

The shortage of priests is caused by a few factors.

McNeil has previously said: “Families are smaller. The whole pool to draw from is shallower than it was years ago. I think it is reflected in all denominations a decline in the life of faith, as there are fewer and fewer people outwardly practicing their faith on a daily basis, and this reduces the numbers even more for potential priests.”

There are also fewer parishioners.

“I think our mass attendance has dropped 42 percent since 2003,” he said.

The creation of parish families also includes schools.

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